The future of the Slidell area casino site is uncertain

Nearly 100 acres outside of Slidell, which was to house a $325 million casino, sits empty nearly a year since voters rejected the proposal.

The owners of the property fenced off a marina that boaters used to visit The Blind Tiger, a nearby restaurant. Photo courtesy Thomas Genin/The Blind Tiger

Peninsula Pacific Entertainment (P2E) still owns the site, located at the foot of the I-10 Twin Span Bridge along Lake Pontchartrain. The Los Angeles-based game company, which bought it for $14 million in 2021, didn’t list it for sale, announce any new proposals, or respond to requests for comment.

Chris Masingill, CEO of St. Tammany Corporation, said the economic development organization hopes “that a high-value, perfectly suited project comes to the site to bring it back to market.”

“We continue to market the site to all interested parties, but it’s important to note that the property is privately owned, and they have their own perspective and plans on how they want to proceed. with the future of their property,” says Masingill. “We are working with the site owners to market the site as appropriate, and hopefully we will see further development focused on hospitality or tourism, but the free market will ultimately drive development.”

The only neighboring business, The Blind Tiger, is still in business but plays the waiting game. Owner Thomas Genin opened the bar and restaurant in 2017 with the vision that there would be a mixed-use development that would anchor it. Now, he says, “we’re like the teenager waiting on the phone to ring for a date on Friday night, and no one calls.”

“There have always been talks that we would have some sort of large-scale commercial development here, but that just hasn’t surfaced. We are still the only company here,” Genin said.

Genin said there have been long stretches of overgrown grass and neglected property near the Oak Harbor exit where the casino property and The Blind Tiger are located. The Lakeshore Marina has been closed and fenced off by P2E, preventing boats from accessing the restaurant. Genin also battled misconceptions that developers bought his company.

All of these issues have resulted in a 30% reduction in business over the past year, Genin said. The restaurant serves approximately 2,000 customers per week.

The Blind Tiger, the only business next to the vacant property, has seen a 30% drop in business over the past year, according to its owner. Photo courtesy Thomas Genin/The Blind Tiger

“We have lost our marina business since the marina was closed by the casino corporation due to liability issues, so our waterfront restaurant is technically not on the water anymore,” he said. -he declares. “We lost fishing tournaments, jet ski groups and moored boats – a good chunk of our business, especially in the summer.”

Michael Vinsanau, director of public information for St. Tammany Parish Government, said the parish office received formal complaints about uncut grass in July and August, and P2E responded by cutting the grass and cleaning the property both times.

“We sent code enforcement officers on site to assess the situation both times, decided the grass needed to be cut, and the company did it in a timely manner each time,” said said Vinsanau. “Our role is to continue to monitor the site, maintain the property and respond to residents’ concerns. We hope that every business and landowner maintains their properties out of respect for their neighbors and the businesses and residents of our parish.

In December 2021, the casino known as Camellia Bay Resort met its fate when St. Tammany voters upheld the 1996 ban on casino gambling in the parish. Since then, P2E has been selling assets.

In February, Kentucky-based Churchill Downs announced an agreement to acquire the bulk of P2E’s assets for nearly $2.5 billion. The transactions included Virginia-based assets such as Colonial Downs Racetrack and Rosie’s Gaming Emporium locations, New York-based del Lago Resort & Casino, and Hard Rock Hotel & Casino operations in Sioux City, Iowa.

In May, P2E reached an agreement to sell DiamondJacks Casino in Bossier City, closed since March 2020, to Foundation Gaming, a Mississippi company that buys and renovates distressed casino properties. P2E had wanted to move the casino license to the site outside of Slidell.

Genin said he still hoped the property would be developed by someone.

“I was for the casino project; I am for any development that would help my business,” he said. “It’s too valuable a site for nothing to happen. I still believe it’s a matter of when, not if.

Amanda J. Marsh